The UK’s competition watchdog has warned that Experian’s purchase of start-up rival ClearScore could stifle product development and impact customers.
The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) ‘phase 2′ investigation has provisionally found that the deal is likely to result in “less intense competition”, which could harm the continued development of digital products to help people understand their finances.
Currently, competition between the two firms is helping to drive quality and innovation in both free and paid-for credit checking services as they develop their products to vie for customers.
By taking one of the company’s out of the market, the CMA’s provisional finding is that the merger would substantially reduce the pressure to continue to develop innovative offers and to make other improvements in services.
“Our investigation has shown that this is a fast-paced and evolving market, and that both Experian and ClearScore are an important part of that,” said Roland Green, the inquiry chair.
“The provisional findings in our investigation show that Experian’s proposed takeover of ClearScore is likely to weaken competition in the sector and have a negative effect on the services offered to customers.”
Experian said it was “disappointed” by the findings and stressed that the deal will have “a positive impact” on competition.
“We also believe we will be able innovate more and better through the combination of the parties’ complementary assets and innovation cultures,” the company said.
The CMA is now asking for views on its provisional findings and plans to make a final decision by 11 March 2019 at the latest.